Dutch employers’ boss criticises politicians

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The Netherlands lacks capable politicians and is suffering economically as a result, says the head of the Dutch employers’ federation, Bernard Wientjes.

Political short-sightedness means the country is missing economic opportunities, Mr Wientjes says in an interview with Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad. “But the economy and national interest are closely connected,” he added.

“The country’s real elite is no longer represented in the higher reaches of our political system, such as the government, and the upper and the lower houses of parliament. It’s exceedingly harmful for the country,” the paper quotes Mr Wientjes as saying.

He accuses cabinet ministers of surrounding themselves with people “who have one goal only: to please the minister.” This, Mr Wientjes warns, leads to “sun king behaviour and narcissism. If you have no critical people around you, you tend to believe you’re really very good.”
Mr Wientjes says he is willing to become a government minister himself, albeit reluctantly. “I’m willing to fight for Dutch companies. If it’s necessary, I’ll do it. That’s what I told Prime Minister Mark Rutte when he asked me. But I’m not terribly eager.”

Mr Wientjes’ remarks have been criticised by both rightwing and leftwing politicians. MP Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert of the pro-business VVD party said critics should act rather than talk. Amsterdam’s Labour Finances and Economy Alderman Lodewijk Asscher said it was “intensely sad” that people with such long experience should criticise hard-working politicians and change their stance at every turn.


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